Looking for the best board games for two players? Then you’re in the right place. You don’t need a boatload of people to have a great time with a fantastic board game, card game or tabletop game. There are plenty of board games which you can happily play with just two people – whether that’s you and a family member, friend, partner or roommate.
While some board games are built specifically with two players in mind, others have special rules to make the game work for fewer players – but it in no way lessens the fun.
Here at TechRadar, we’ve rounded up our favorite two-player board games for you to peruse. Our picks include board games, card games and tabletop games, covering a range of genres and difficulties, so there’s sure to be something for you and your player two. Read on for the best board games for two players.
Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is a classic for a reason and, in times like these, it’s nice to pretend you’re going on a great rail adventure without ever actually leaving your couch. The aim of the game is to collect various types of train cars in order to claim railway routes across the country – or continent. The original edition is set in North America, but there are other versions set in different world regions to choose from.
The game's tension comes when you have to decide whether to expand your rail empire or add more train cars to your collection – while you’re building your collection, your competitor may be claiming all the most valuable routes. While Ticket to Ride can be played with up to five players, the minimum you need is two. Its premise is pretty simple but provides hours of fun.
Do you love unicorns? Who doesn’t? Well, did you know that they’re even more excellent when you have them wage war on one another? Unstable Unicorns is a fun and simple strategic card game that sees you trying to fill your stable with the required amount of unicorns to win. But your opponent will be trying to knock the little rainbow delights out of your stable – and fill their own too – so they can win first.
Unstable Unicorns may start off sweet but soon you’ll be finding yourself getting a bit ruthless, stealing unicorns and placing downgrade curses on your loved one. While you can play with up to eight players, there are specific rules so you can play two-player.
There are a fair few expansions you can grab too to make things a bit spicier and, if you’re feeling a bit naughty, there’s also a NSFW version available.
Yet another game that takes something adorable and makes it destructive. Exploding Kittens, like Unstable Unicorns, is a strategic card game but the premise is a bit simpler: don’t pick up an exploding kitten.
The aim of the game is to try and hinder your opponent to make sure they pick up a kitten but have no way to defuse it, meaning you win the game. Expect a lot of pointed attacks, thievery and kittens – the latter of which come in many (very odd) shapes, sizes and personalities.
Like with Unstable Unicorns, the standard game can support up to five players but the rules have specific instructions if you want to play with two people. There are also plenty of expansion packs that you can pick up (we suggest the Imploding Kittens expansion) and both a party pack and a NSFW version.
We know this one is a bit tongue-in-cheek given the climate but Pandemic has always been considered a fantastic game.
In Pandemic, you play as a disease-fighting specialist on a mission to stop the spread of several virulent diseases which have broken out simultaneously all over the globe. You need to fight the diseases in global hotspots while also researching the cure, working alongside the other player. Yep, in this game, cooperation is key.
You can play Pandemic with up to four players, but you can also play with two. There are lots of versions available, as well as expansion packs. What better thing to do during an actual pandemic than to play a game about a pandemic?
Carcassonne is a great entry-level board game for those who are bored of endless Monopoly games and want something a little more thoughtful without being too complex. There’s a reason it’s considered a classic, after all.
In Carcassonne, you take turns drawing tiles to expand an ever-growing map, while earning as many points from the locations as possible. It’s really easy to learn but every time you play you work out new strategies and ways to win – or, more realistically, ways to screw over your competition.
You can play Carcassonne with up to five people, but this classic board game is equally as fun with two people.
It’s a classic for a reason. Scrabble is one of the most perfect board games for two players as it’s simple to pick up and somewhat educational. If somehow you’ve never heard of Scrabble before, the premise is super simple. You take a select number of random letters from a bag and then try to make words out of them, by placing them on the game board. Each word is worth a certain number of points and the person with the most points at the end wins!
You can play Scrabble with up to four players at a time, but two is probably the perfect amount. But if it’s a bit too much of a classic for you then we suggest checking out Bananagrams further on in this list.
Codenames: Duet is a spinoff of word game Codenames – except this time players are working together. Codenames: Duet sees you and your partner working together (as secret agents) to try and track down your fellow agents, while avoiding a band of assassins that are hunting you down.
Codenames is about hints and clues. You have set words you need your partner to guess, which you must give clues for, and a set of words that you must try to ensure your partner doesn’t say. You need to try and lead them to the right words, without saying them explicitly and without them saying the forbidden words.
Like many of the other games on this list, you can play with more than two players, but Codenames: Duet is the perfect espionage game for two agents.
We were up in the air about whether to include Monopoly on this list but it’s hard to deny it’s a stone-cold classic and, with a myriad of editions now available, you’re bound to find one that suits you.
If you’ve been hiding under a rock (or perhaps a very pricey boardwalk) and somehow have never played Monopoly then let us explain the premise: you roll dice, move around a board of street names and try to buy as much property as you can, collecting rent payments from unfortunate souls who land on your locations and with the aim of bankrupting everyone who is playing.
You can play Monopoly with up to eight players but it’s also great for just two players, with plenty of properties to hoover up and an extra degree of cutthroatedness.
Risk isn’t necessarily a game for those who want a board game that’s simple to pick up – it’s definitely not that. The first time playing this game, you may hate it. It takes ages; you have to think as much about what other people will do as your own moves. There’s a gamble on every throw of the dice and yet you grow to appreciate the balance of chance and skill. It fuels one’s opportunity to gloat as you try to spread your armies across the globe, while protecting your previous conquests.
While Risk can be played with up to six players – all of whom you’re going head-to-head with simultaneously – it’s a much easier (and more enjoyable) game with two players. There are plenty of editions of Risk that are worth checking out but we personally love the Lord of the Rings version.
You’ve heard of Scrabble, right? You know, that game we spoke about three entries ago. Bananagrams is a similar form of word game, but instead of playing words against someone on the same board, you’ll find yourself making your own personal grid and shouting at your opponent every time you finish a new entry.
Unlike Scrabble, you’ll be making your own word grid with the game’s 144 lettered tiles. Every time you place a new letter, you’ll shout “Peel” as you and your opponent take a new letter that you have to squeeze into your grid. You can move any tile at any time, so if you want to switch your words around so you can fit in the letter Q you can do that.
This is a great choice for two players, but the game can also be played with up to six players too. Plus, Bananagrams is a perfect game to take on the move as there’s no board, and it comes in a particularly portable banana-shaped case.
Sushi Go! Is an adorable card game that doesn’t involve battling unicorns or blowing up cats. Instead, it’s a fast-playing card game that sees you trying to create sushi dish combinations from the cards that go flying by. Each combination earns you points, with some combinations grabbing you more than others.
Sushi Go! Can be played with up to five players but you can happily play it with just two, plus it’s easy to transport – making train and airplane journeys much more entertaining.
Best board games for two players: at a glance
- Ticket to Ride
- Unstable Unicorns
- Exploding Kittens
- Codenames: Duet
- Sushi Go!
- Best board games 2021: our pick of the top games to lose yourself in